There is crying every day

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 22, 2020, 12:28 AM | comments: 0

One of the hardest things about working from home when there's school at home is that I hear the crying every day. Simon struggles a great deal with the remote learning situation. His teachers are doing their best, and Diana is reaching nothing short of miracles and fits of patience every day. The boy does laugh every day, too, but it seems largely over-shadowed by the misery.

The first problem is that the technology itself causes some of the anxiety and all-out meltdowns. If he can't get into a meeting, or a connection drops, the freak-out is immediate. I've seen it up close when I happen to be in the kitchen refilling a drink or making lunch. It's hard to say what the root cause of this reaction is, but it's a combination of fear of failure and fear of missing out. It's upsetting for us and hard to get him back in.

That leads to another challenge, that he believes everything is urgent, and everything is important, and in a remote context, it's harder to "raise your hand" and get clarity about something when the teacher goes too fast or even the video briefly glitches. Even electronic test taking gets worse, because of things like getting locked out when you tab-over to your teacher's call room, or not being able to skip questions and go back.

None of this is particularly surprising, I suppose, because as Simon would tell you, one of the things about autism is that it makes it hard to adjust and adapt, and that in turn activates the fight-or-flight mechanism that overwhelms him. Fortunately we're seeing his therapist again, and he seems to be connecting with him. And the best news is that she's going into private practice, so she's going to cost about half as much!

Tonight we had another bedtime meltdown, which is fortunately not as common as it used to be, but it mostly centers around the issues of independence. Simon isn't comfortable doing things on his own, even when they're as simple as brushing his teeth. I try to be careful not to invalidate his feelings, but at the same time, I can't hold his hand or help when he has to blow his nose. He's gotta learn self-care.

I have to remind myself that we do have laughs, but it's days like this where it's hard to see it. His grades are actually not terrible, but they come at the expense of daily drama and Diana having to be with him almost constantly. It's been hard to find the outlets for release that we all enjoyed as a family, like a concert at Epcot or a weekend visiting grandparents.


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